"Being gay" is not adequately descriptive

I was looking through another (now locked) thread and read a post that suggested that “being gay” is without question, sinful. Not to target whoever posted that post, but it got me thinking:

It seems that we should be more precise in what we say about homosexuallity, both in terms of what it is, how it is expressed and how we as Catholic Christians “deal with it”, for lack of a better term.

For example, when someone says, “my friend is gay”, does that mean he has a same-sex attraction? Does that mean that he is participating in homosexual activity? Does that mean that he is struggling with his sexual identity?

In order to have reasonable discussions with non-Catholics about homosexuality issues, we need to be clear about what the Church teaches in terms of one’s orientation and one’s actions. And, in many cases, reasonable discussion is either a precursor to or part of a step towards first, understanding Church teachings and second, helping to struggle with them and ultimately accept them.


As someone with same sex attraction I find both ‘sides’ of this issue often distasteful. One side sometimes equates having SSA as a sin in itself. The other emphasizes embracing everything ‘about’ a particular individual.


Many people do not want precision - so I doubt you will find a consensus definition of the word “gay.” Many people are deliberately ambiguous - seem not only to prefer ambiguity but to consistently hide in it.

In other words, some choose to avoid “reasonable discussion” of the issue. Reason itself, like precision, is exactly something to be avoided. Darkness is much better than light, in advancing the decline.

It’s tricky nowadays because there’s an unspoken rule in modern society that if you feel like doing something you should do it. So for most people, it is unthinkable that one would feel same sex attraction and then would not seek to pursue a homosexual relationship.

Before discussing the fine details of the Church’s argument, it’s a good idea first to see if the person you’re talking to can accept that in some instances, it’s not a good idea to do whatever you want. If they can’t agree to that premise, there isn’t much point in attempting to argue the teaching.


Unless I’m wrong (which is entirely possible), what’s sinful is essentially sex outside of marriage (and whatever leads to that I suppose-- lust?) This is true if you’re gay or if you’re straight. That’s also difficult to label, mostly because it’s a private matter.

It’s now commonplace for straight people to have premarital sex, and is really considered no big deal. Meanwhile gay people, even those who aren’t sexually active, have really taken a beating about their sexuality to the point where it’s difficult to create trust and openness. I think that’s got to be the first step to helping people.

Usually when someone describes themselves as “gay” they’ve come to accept their sexual orientation for the most part and probably don’t think that there’s anything wrong with acting in accordance with that orientation. And they probably are connected to some extent with the wider LGBT community. I can’t imagine hardly any of these people ever using expressions like SSA (“same-sex attraction”). In my experience, therefore, most people who do use expressions like SSA are probably against gay sex or they’re on a site like CAF and use it because that’s what other people there use.

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Good point. SSA is “only” useful to distinguish between orientation and acts.

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I agree that is generally what is meant by a person who declares “I’m gay”.

A term like SSA is used when the inclination itself is to be referenced. The statements: “He is gay” and “He experiences SSA” are not synonymous, but the latter Encompasses the former.

As an earlier poster remarked, these days there is a tendency to presume that if one experiences SSA, then of course the individual would act on it. To a large degree, there is also a presumption that boy and girlfriend are having sex. Both those presumptions are well supported in the popular media which presents both, and in prime time tv, as the most ordinary of things.

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Nowadays, most people probably don’t know hardly any boy and girlfriend couples who are waiting until marriage to have sex. I’m sure they do exist, but mostly among religious conservatives.

Generally the Christian denominations - Which in aggregate have many members - would hold that sex belongs (only) in marriage. It is a curious thing that to merely uphold that principle renders one a “religious conservative”. I suppose a “religious progressive” is one who holds to no religious principles - so maybe it makes sense…

I think very few people think of gay as only the inclinations without actions.

That first step should have been taken a long, long time ago. Now, it’s probably too late. Not only have most LGBT people left the Church, never to come back, huge numbers of their friends and family members have joined them, or have one foot out the door already.

I think it is expecting a bit too much to establish trust and openness given the historical background.

I simply define it as feeling attraction toward the same sex, i.e. not sinful. But I can see where it would have different meanings in different contexts. In that case, we should politely and patiently seek clarification. “Being gay means that somebody feels same-sex attraction. Are you referring to those who act on that attraction by having sex, those who abstain, or both?”

I miss the old days when the word gay just meant happy and lively, merry and joyful…

Baah… :rage:


I suppose the common view of the gay person today is that:

  • sexual relations dies not require marriage for it to be proper;

  • any 2 (adult, unmarried) persons may marry each other.

So in the catholic perspective, gay sex runs into 2 impediments (or crosses 2 lines).

Tbh, if they’re not willing to stick to Church teaching, we can’t really change everything to try and coax them back. The Truth is the Truth, and you can take it or leave it.

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